9 from 9, Zinedine Zidane’s final flourish
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez described head coach Zinedine Zidane as a “blessing from heaven” after his latest final triumph, winning the Spanish Super Cup beating Atletico Madrid here on Sunday.
The Frenchman oversaw his first trophy since the 2017-18 Champions League and his boss hopes it’s just the beginning.
Zidane has won each of his finals as Real coach, taking his tally of successes to nine with a tense victory against Atletico in the Saudi Arabia city on Sunday.
Madrid won 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw, scraping to a shoot-out after Federico Valverde was sent off for a cynical foul on a goalbound Alvaro Morata late in extra time.
This was the first title of Zidane’s second stint as Madrid boss — the first returning three straight Champions League wins — but Perez is confident the Frenchman is ready to deliver further success.
“(Zidane) has plenty of trophies and we’re very happy for him,” Perez said. “I hope that he wins more trophies. “Zidane has a loving relationship with Real. He decided to rest for a year and now he’s returned with renewed energy. Zidane is a blessing from heaven.”
Perez felt the triumph at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah was particularly impressive given the absence of a number of key men, including Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
“We came here without some great players like Hazard, Benzema and Bale,” he said. “Zidane has been able to put together a team and we won the trophy.
“I think that we’re on the path to finding ourselves again after a little dip. New people have come in who have given the team intensity and we’re on a good path.”
Zidane on his part hailed Madrid’s winning mentality after captain Sergio Ramos tucked home the deciding penalty. “In the end, we’re all together and we prepared (for) the matches well,” said the 47-year-old French legend, who has guided Real to one LaLiga, three Champions Leagues, two Uefa Super Cups and as many Fifa Club World Cups and Spanish Super Cups.
“I don’t know why we’ve won nine out of nine. It’s because that’s what this club is like. It hasn’t been easy, we’ve been patient, calm.
“At half-time, we didn’t know how to get closer to goal, but we had patience. We believed until the end, like always. Winning a trophy is never easy and even less so against Atletico.
“We’re still in lots of competitions. We have to be happy, but there’s still lots to come.”